Over the past few weeks April and I have been searching the forests for good canoe bark and bark for baskets and boxes. We have got a good pile of smaller bark for the baskets and boxes but didn't really have any good trees picked out for canoe bark. We spent the last 3 days looking in a few areas where I thought they may be some mature birch worth looking at. Not all birch bark is good for baskets and canoes. The bark needs to have very small or tight lenticels, and the bark has to be fairly clear of old limb scars. There are always limb scars, but how many and what they look like are important. There are so many factors in what is required, it takes time and patience, and experience to know what will work what won't and what might. This is the way of natural materials. There is a push and pull, a give and take with what we (the makers) want and what the material will give or do.
This week we will be filling a large basket order, April and I will be making about 30 birch bark baskets, all the old way using split root, ash splint for lashing, and thin ash wood for the rim material. I'll post some photos of that process too.
I'll be starting the building process next week for on a 12 foot birch bark canoe. I prefer 14-16 foot canoes, but with the time I have left before heading to England and Sweden, plus the teaching gigs I have, and the all general household stuff I must do.....plus a lot of spoons to carve and bowls to turn, I've settled on a smaller project. This years project will be well documented as I am giving a presentation on canoe construction at Taljfest in Sweden in August. I have photos of all the canoes I have build including the processes, but I have a nice camera now and this will be a good time to really focus on getting the process recorded well. This year I also have help. Lindy will be here next week helping and learning the process. He's this year's intern up at North House Folk School and wants to build one of these for himself later in the year. I'll show him what I can and I'll get some help in exchange. It's a good trade.
|Chaga mushroom, about 8 inches dia. We brought this one home.|
|peeling from ladder|
|I'd been to this tree about 5 years ago, I came back for it this year.|
|different spot than the first photos|
|rolled up and ready to head back to the truck|